Messianic Thought Outside Theology

Overview

Why did a "secularized" concept of messianicity seem so crucial in the twentieth century? Are messianic structures intelligible outside the theological systems in which they were invented? This book seeks to situate the ethical, ontological, and literary adoptions of messianism within the broader contours of messianic thought.

The gesture by Benjamin, Rosenzweig, and others of detaching messianism from the person of the messiah, understanding it instead as a redemptive potential...

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Overview

Why did a "secularized" concept of messianicity seem so crucial in the twentieth century? Are messianic structures intelligible outside the theological systems in which they were invented? This book seeks to situate the ethical, ontological, and literary adoptions of messianism within the broader contours of messianic thought.

The gesture by Benjamin, Rosenzweig, and others of detaching messianism from the person of the messiah, understanding it instead as a redemptive potential inherent in all human history, is one facet of a broad move in political theory, philosophy, linguistics, and historiography to redeem secular thinking through theological figures.

Yet already within religious discourse the messiah figure is paradoxical. With the invocation of a future arrival "to come," history is opened, yet the previous assumption of an end threatens to shut it off from whatever unexpected might come. The coming arrival, so certain, so complete, will have already come in an anteriority that seems to cancel the future and close down historical life before it starts.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The individual essays in Messianic Thought wonderfully cohere into a true collection, in which a tradition of continental thought from Kant and Benjamin to Derrida and Agamben unfolds and gains new contours; one will want to read it as a whole and not just for the isolated piece."-Paul Fleming, Cornell University

"This book will change the transdisciplinary field of messianic thought in the most provocative and challenging ways imaginable."-Thomas Schestag, Brown University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823256723
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 6/5/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Anna Glazova is Max Kade Visiting Researcher at Rutgers University.

Paul North is Assistant Professor of German at Yale University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Saving Hope, The Wager of Messianism
Anna Glazova and Paul North

Part I: Critiques of Messianic Thought
1. Of Theory, Aesthetics, and Politics: Configuring the Messianic in Early Twentieth-Century Europe
Lisa Anderson
2. On the Price of Messianism: The Intellectual Rift between Gershom Scholem and Jacob Taubes
Thomas Macho
3. Impure Inheritances: Spectral Materiality in Derrida and Marx
Nicole Pepperell
4. Agamben Messianic: The Slightest of Differences
David Ferris
5. Messianic Language and the Idea of Prose. Benjamin and Agamben
Vivian Liska

Part II: Inverted Messianism
6. The Demand for an End: Kant and the Negative Conception of History
Catharine Diehl
7. Migrations of the Bohemian
Joshua Wilner
8. Paul Celan's Improper Names
Anna Glazova
9. "When Christianity Is Finally Over": Images of a Messianic Politics in Heine and Benjamin
Peter Fenves

Part III: Negating the Messiah
10. The Crisis of the Messianic Claim: Scholem, Benjamin, Baudelaire
Oleg Gelikmann
11. Messiahs and Principles
Paul North
12. Messianic Not
Werner Hamacher

Notes
Bibliography
List of Contributors
Index

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